Republicans are demanding answers after Michael Cohen revealed he met with staff for Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for more than 10 hours before his testimony.
President Trump’s former personal attorney had already raised eyebrows when he admitted during testimony last month that he had spoken to Rep. Adam Schiff about what “topics” might be raised during the House Oversight Committee hearing, and now the extent of those meetings sparked more questions.
This week, the former attorney told House investigators that Schiff’s staff met with him for more than 10 hours over at least four different visits to New York ahead of his public testimony, Fox News reported citing two sources familiar with the matter.
Ohio Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup noted in an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” that a chairman of a committee meeting with a witness ahead of testifying before a hearing is actually not common, contrary to what Schiff claimed.
Rep. Mike Turner led Republicans in a demand for answers, writing to Cohen’s team in a letter on Wednesday asking to verify his contacts “with Democratic Members or Democratic staff of SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence], COR [House Committee on Oversight and Reform], or HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] prior to his appearances before House and Senate committees last week.”
The letter requested information on who the contacts were, where the meetings took place and for how long.
“Were any such meetings helpful to Cohen in the preparation of his statements?” he asked. “If these meetings occurred, did Democratic Members or staff assist Cohen in preparation of his statements?”
“These questions are important for the public to understand whether or not they were watching witness testimony, a public hearing, or well-rehearsed theater,” Turner wrote. “Clearly, there will be questions as to whether or not such contacts, if they occurred, constitute witness tampering, obstruction of justice, or collusion, collaboration, and cooperation between the House Democratic majority, their staff, and you.”
“One by one, during the dramatic hearing, Cohen fielded questions on precisely the same topics that the sources told Fox News he discussed with Schiff’s staff during the sit-downs in New York,” the Fox News report by Gregg Re and Catherine Herridge stated.
Cohen responded to questions from New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney on the National Enquirer’s “Catch and Kill” policy, and discussed allegedly undervaluing Trump’s assets when asked by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if the president ever provided “inflated assets to an insurance company.” He even had documents that allegedly proved Trump “inflated” his assets in order to secure a loan.
There needs to be a full House Ethics investigation of whether Schiff suborned perjury, obstructed justice, or intimidated a witness before his committee, especially since we know Cohen repeatedly perjured himself last week. https://t.co/gxIB9dbWrp
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) March 8, 2019
“We are running a professional investigation in search of the facts, and we welcome the opportunity to meet with potential witnesses in advance of any testimony to determine relevant topics to cover in order to make productive use of their time before the Committee,” House Intelligence Committee spokesman, Patrick Boland, told Fox News, defending the pre-hearing meetings with Schiff’s staff.
“Despite this professed outrage by Republicans, it’s completely appropriate to conduct proffer sessions and allow witnesses to review their prior testimony before the Committee interviews them — such sessions are a routine part of every serious investigation around the country, including congressional investigations,” Boland added.
On CBS News’ “Face the Nation” last weekend, Schiff indicated there were seven contacts with Cohen before his testimony but did not elaborate on how many were with the committee staff and how many were with him personally.
.@RepAdamSchiff responds to @GOPLeader’s call for Schiff to recuse himself from the House investigation into Pres. Trump’s finances. Schiff says he only contacted Cohen to invite him to testify. “Mr. McCarthy…can be forgiven for not knowing how to run a credible investigation.” pic.twitter.com/dIVqhZHebz
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) March 3, 2019
“The extent of my contact was just inviting him to testify and also trying to allay his concerns about the president’s threats against him and his family … but our staff certainly sat down to interview him, and that’s what you do in any credible investigation.” the California Democrat said.
GOP Rep. Devin Nunes said the revelation of the extent of Cohen’s meetings before testifying “shouldn’t be shocking.”
“No matter how much witness tampering you do, you’re not going to find collusion,” the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee told “Fox & Friends” Friday.
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